You will notice that the name of the show has been changed to exclude “et Image" as there has been less emphasis on home theater in recent years, not that progress has halted in that field, but the interest in audio is definitely on the upswing. You can probably blame the headphone for causing this change in tide. The next room, however, was indeed a very enticing demonstration of home theater, not with projection in a dimly lit dedicated home theater setting, but simply a large screen in a normally lit room. The source was a Cambridge CXU Blu-ray player concealed in an enclosed audio rack and the wireless sound was courtesy of the self-powered, full range Silver Phantom lifestyle speaker with 3000 watts (peak) per speaker ($3300 CDN/speaker). The baby brother Phantom is good for 750 watts (peak) at $2800/speaker for those with smaller budgets or more porous walls. They feature built in DACs and processors as well. All in all, it was a very clean, contemporary look with precious little to complain about. I mean, the sound has to come from somewhere. And the sound was very clean, transparent and dynamic. Nice picture, too. This was an excellent display of how to do home theater in a normal, above ground room.
Monitor Audio caught my attention at the TAVES show last fall and here at Montreal they really impressed me with their PL 500 (Platinum) three-module towers clad in Macassar Ebony ($28,000 US) powered by a Classe solid state power amp. Sheldon Ginn of Kevro dug up the specs for me: 91dB sensitivity with nominal 4 Ohm impedance and recommended 150 to 400 wpc power. The sturdy, rugged looking Massif component stand showing off a cavity filled with a pearlescent resin did not go unnoticed. These custom made Canadian racks by Trevor Doyle make for an interesting counterpoint to the industrial look of high end gear. The rack was filled with Cyrus Audio front end components and preamp providing ample signal to the power amp and speakers.
There was a large room set up for lectures and Le Lab Mastering of Montreal was giving a presentation when I stuck my head in the room.
The Gershmans were here, as usual, in the St. Michel room showing their new, relatively affordable Inspiration speaker that was a lot more complex on the inside than it appeared. It sounded very good and was reasonably priced at $5900 CDN. With a frequency response of 18Hz to 20 kHz, a sensitivity of 89dB and a nominal impedance of 6 Ohms, it requires 60 watts, on up. I also spoke with Jacques Riendeau of Oracle Audio who was introducing the new Oracle turntable that has not yet been named. It has a detached AC synchronous motor, 33.3/45 rpm and their own newly designed uni-pivot arm. The arm is adjustable for azimuth and there is a slider weight on the armtube that dampens resonance and provides adjustment for matching the compliance of different cartridges. For cartridges of less compliance, you move the mass forward; with high compliance cartridges you move the mass back. The plinth is a three layer sandwich of two black 0.5" layers with a 3/16" layer in red in the middle. There is no suspension and the feet are made of Delrin. Oracle tried to keep a balance among the performance, the style and the price resulting in a $2000 package includes turntable, tonearm and an Ortofon Blue cartridge. I heard it playing with an Audio Technica AT-F7 cartridge (about $400) and it sound like a very good deal to me.